In a recent study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and published in the the journal Antiviral Therapy, researchers have demonstrated that a toxin called melittin found in bee venom can destroy HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, by poking holes in the “envelope” surrounding the virus.
“Melittin on the nanoparticles fuses with the viral envelope,” said research instructor Joshua L. Hood, MD, Ph.D., via the news release. “The melittin forms little pore-like attack complexes and ruptures the envelope, stripping it off the virus.” Adding, “We are attacking an inherent physical property of HIV. Theoretically, there isn’t any way for the virus to adapt to that. The virus has to have a protective coat, a double-layered membrane that covers the virus.”
Hood hopes that eventually a gel could be made and used by both men and women to stop the virus head on. “Our hope is that in places where HIV is running rampant, people could use this gel as a preventative measure to stop the initial infection.” In theory, the particles may also be used as an injection into the bloodstream to kill the virus in an already HIV-positive person.
This study comes on the heels of news that a Mississippi baby with HIV has apparently been cured. Currently there are more than 34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, according to The Foundation for AIDS Research. Of these, 3.3 million are under the age of 15 years old. Each day, almost 7,000 people contract HIV around the globe.
With the recent progress being made surrounding HIV, maybe there will be hope for those infected and more preventable measures in the near future.